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Niagara Falls man sentenced to 7 years in gun case

LOCKPORT - Frank M. Thomas of Niagara Falls, who was convicted of illegal handgun possession during a Niagara County Court trial in October, was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison and five years of post-release supervision.

Thomas, 36, of Memorial Parkway, had been arrested after a Feb. 14, 2013, police raid on his home. Cops said they found two-thirds of an ounce of cocaine and a loaded, unregistered handgun, but the jury acquitted Thomas on the drug possession charges while convicting him of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Ironically, Thomas previously pleaded guilty to a drug charge in the case, but withdrew his plea after winning an appeal over his sentence. Judge Sara Sheldon had promised to give him no more than five years behind bars, but after Thomas was arrested on two more drug felonies while awaiting sentencing in 2014, she canceled that pledge and gave him seven years.

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled that Sheldon couldn't do that because she hadn't warned Thomas the deal was off if he was arrested again. Thomas then opted to go to trial rather than stick with his guilty plea, but Tuesday he ended up with the same sentence he challenged in his appeal.

Thomas already is serving a 3 1/2-year sentence for the 2014 drug charges, which weren't affected by the appeal. He also is awaiting trial on charges of burglarizing a Niagara Falls electronic cigarette store in July 2013. Thomas withdrew his guilty plea on that after his appeal.

 

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